Burning Bridges

Burning Bridges

Cutting energy costs with effective insulation

Check out this infrared image of the NY skyline, which more than adequately shows how heat escapes from our buildings, adding to running costs and increasing maintenance.

NZ’s temperate climate has made us all a little cavalier when it comes to insulation, but in reality, it’s one of the easiest ways for businesses to cut costs. But in reality, heat loss costs us millions each year

Not just in energy costs, but it spikes maintenance and plant costs as equipment undergoes more stress and wears out quicker. And then there’s the environmental cost of pumping pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Modern buildings are embracing new technologies to mitigate extremes of hot and cold. The heat funnel effect first seen on the Geyser Building, and later on factories like Ceres in Mt Wellington, use temperature differentials to draw cool air through the buildings in the summer, and solar warmed air in winter.

But what if you’re saddled with an aging building, with old or inadequate insulation? If that’s the case, you might consider retrofitting a high-performance insulation system with waterproof membrane directly onto the outer skin of the roof.

thermal bridge

In NZ insulation has traditionally been placed inside, between the rafters and the roof, which is known as a “Cold Roof”. But more businesses are adopting the European practice of putting the insulation directly on the outside. This is known as a warm roof, and has a number of advantages, including:

  1. Less capital outlay to install, as there’s no need to remove the existing roof, and little need to prep the area. The new skin will cover everything.
  2. Easier to apply, saving on time and the need for specialist craftsmen.
  3. No disruptions to operations during the retrofit, as there’s no breaches to the building, and no workmen inside the building.
  4. Less opportunity for Thermal Bridging. When insulation is applied under the roof, the beams holding the roof up provide a bridge for heat to bypass the thermal barrier.
  5. Less likelihood of moisture build-up in cold weather, as the dew point is located outside the roof
  6. The extra skin adds to the integrity of the roof, prolonging it’s life expectancy.

Another couple of big benefits come when using products like IKO Prevent (from Neuchatel, NZ).

  • This latest technology waterproofing membrane is fire retardant, and can dramatically reduce losses in the unfortunate event of a fire. And
  • It’s “cold applied”, so no need for naked flames.


Having workmen on your roof with oxy-acetylene torches adds unnecessary risk to your project, when IKO performs the same job in a flame-free environment. So application is much quicker and less risky (without compromising the integrity or life expectancy of your membrane).

And while you’re weighing up the merits of adding a membrane, here’s another couple of questions for you?

  • Are you paying more in air conditioning than you are in heating? If so then maybe you should consider lightening the colour of your roof. You might be amazed at how such a simple act can cut your costs. The ‘solar reflectance’ of the paint you use also affects the way it absorbs heat. And
  • Could you cut down on thermal bridging? It’s difficult to insulate structural beams, but there’s plenty of other items penetrating your roof. Pipes and vents are obvious, but what about nails? Each one that pierces your insulation is creating a pathway for heat to transfer in or out.

Good insulation is not difficult to achieve. And when weighed up against heating and cooling costs, is a surprisingly good investment for almost all buildings. How does yours stack up?

For the last 100+ years Neuchatel has been protecting tens of thousands of surfaces from deterioration caused by heavy machinery and the elements. Over time we’ve refined our products and our service to be more durable, environmentally friendly and affordable – especially for large scale projects. For more information, call us on 09 441 4595